The Irving Police Department announced it is the first police department in Texas to complete a pledge taken to improve its response to those suffering from mental illness in the community.
The pledge is part of an initiative known as the One Mind Campaign started by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), a 30,000 member professional association for law enforcement which provides training, technical assistance, and recruitment services to police agencies around the world.
To join the One Mind Campaign, law enforcement agencies must pledge to implement four promising practices in a 12-36 month period to ensure successful future interactions between police officers and persons with mental illness.
In the law enforcement community, mental illness has become a common focus, with some departments estimating that as many as 20 percent of their calls for service are related to mental health challenges. Irving Police Chief Jeff Spivey made the decision to join the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s One Mind Campaign to ensure the Irving Police Department was providing the most relevant and comprehensive approach to providing mental health responses to the Irving community.
In completing the One Mind Pledge, the Irving Police Department established a sustainable partnership with a local mental health organization, developed and implemented a model policy to address officers’ interactions with those affected by mental illness, and ensured that all officers received some type of mental health awareness training, with at least 20 percent of the department completing the more intensive Crisis Intervention Training.
The 40-hour Crisis Intervention curriculum is designed by local agencies to train a team of specialized officers to respond to calls which involve individuals with mental health disorders, such as depression or intellectual disability. The curriculum includes education on various de-escalation techniques as well as live role-play scenarios of officers responding to persons who need mental health assistance.
Other initiatives that the Irving Police Department has pursued in response to the needs of the community include establishing a local Behavioral Health Leadership Team (BHLT) and Mental Health Response Team (MHRT). The Irving BHLT is the first police department-led body of its kind in the state of Texas. It is an interagency leadership group that includes representatives from mental health services providers, the municipal court, a local nonprofit organization, the local housing authority and other interested entities.
Its members meet regularly to discuss trends and solutions for efficiently managing local mental health resources.
The Irving MHRT is staffed by police officers and a licensed mental health clinician. The team responds to crisis calls and maintains contact with services clients to facilitate their continuity of mental health care.
“The greatest benefit in adopting the strategies of the One Mind Campaign pledge has been ensuring our organization’s response to those individuals suffering from mental illness in line with best practices as determined by the IACP based research, model policies and local mental health authorities,” the department said in a release. “This enables the Irving Police Department to develop and maintain trust relationships in responses to these calls for service.”